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Community considers CWC sports program

Jan 20, 2014 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Members of the local sports community gathered Wednesday to talk about the future of athletics at Central Wyoming College.

Administrators at the school are considering adding a new sport to CWC's current roster of rodeo, men's and women's basketball, and women's volleyball. People at the meeting, including area coaches, teachers and sports enthusiasts, offered their opinions about the best course of action.

Feasibility study

To begin the conversation, assistant dean of student services Steve Barlow shared the results of a feasibility study conducted by the CWC athletic department in the fall.

Sports considered in the study included softball, baseball, cross country, track, golf, soccer, wrestling, swimming, football and tennis, all sanctioned by the National Junior College Athletic Association.

Others, including ice hockey, lacrosse, bowling, rugby and motocross, are not sanctioned by the NJCAA but also were part of the study.

Barlow said the staff considered the resources that would be necessary to take on each sport. For example, the school might need new coaches, athletic trainers or physical plant staff members to accommodate an additional program. With more students, a bigger academic advising department may be necessary, and the college would have to cover transportation for the new team.

The least expensive sports to add would be tennis, golf, cross country and "possibly swimming," according to the study.

"So we really looked hard at those and are looking hard at those," Barlow said.

More expensive programs include soccer, baseball, wrestling and softball.

Jeremy Hill, activities director at Riverton High School, reminded the group that facilities can be hard to come by in Riverton. If a swimming team were added, for example, CWC would likely use the RHS pool for practices and meets. The same goes for football.

"If you go with football, you'd use the stadium we have," Hill said. "We're happy to share that with you, (but) at some point in time, that doesn't make much sense, either."

He added that collaboration between CWC and the Riverton school district could be positive, resulting in improvements to facilities because of the potential combination of resources.

Community involvement

The study also looked at each sport's presence throughout the state. Every school has a rodeo team, a men's basketball team and a volleyball team, Barlow said, while cross country is only at Gillette College, and Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington is the only institution with a golf program.

Nobody has baseball, Barlow said. Scott Phister, a member of the CWC Board of Trustees, wondered whether it could be beneficial to have the only baseball program in Wyoming.

"Maybe we'd have to travel out-of-state, but we could host half of the games at home," he said.

Local baseball enthusiast and volunteer Cody Beers pointed out that any Wyoming student who wants to play the game while going to school in the state would attend CWC if it had a baseball program. He also noted Riverton is already home to several baseball fields as well as a contingent of players and fans.

Retired teacher and former coach Larry Chouinard said the sport CWC chooses should be one that will draw a crowd. Softball is popular right now, he suggested, as is golf.

"And soccer is the fastest growing sport in America," he said.

Barlow agreed, predicting that every college in Wyoming would have a soccer team within two years.

Others spoke up for golf, or cross country, both of which have strong representation at local high schools, and one person suggested polling the student body to see what sport they would be most interested in.

CWC President Jo Anne McFarland said she was playing "devil's advocate" when she asked whether the school might want to scrap the idea of a new program.

"There are those who would argue ... that we don't adequately support the sports we already have," she said. "Does it make sense to spread limited resources to additional sports?"

When asked about a timeline, Barlow said the answer would differ depending on the sport in question. A coach might have to be hired first, he said, and then the recruitment process would begin.

"We don't just flip a switch and have a sport," he said.

Jason Wood, CWC's executive vice president for student and academic services, said some programs could be developed as soon as fall 2014, while others would have to wait until next year.

CWC board chairman Charlie Krebs said he would send notes from the discussion to those in attendance.

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